“But thousands of "Duck Dynasty" fans are not happy with A&E's decision, as a brand-new website called IStandWithPhil.com has been created to host a petition demanding Robertson be reinstated immediately.
The petition already had nearly 10,000 backers by 12:30 p.m. Thursday, and it appeared to be gaining in popularity as it spread like wildfire across social media sites including Twitter and Facebook.
The petition, which was addressed to "A&E Network," includes a lengthy letter outlining its backers' grievances with the network for pulling Robertson, 67, from the reality TV show about the hunting enthusiast's business and family, slamming it for its "intolerant, discriminatory and punitive treatment of Mr. Phil Robertson." Here is a sample of what it says:
"Mr. Robertson’s comments in GQ Magazine are simply reflective of a Biblical view of sexuality,marriage and family – a view that has stood the test of time for thousands of years and continues to be held by the majority of Americans and today’s world as a whole. Many members of the LGBT community may not agree with this view, but the notion that a free-thinking American should be discriminated against simply for expressing a perspective that is in conflict with another is patently un-American and flies in the face of true tolerance and civility."
The letter, which is spreading online via the #IStandWithPhil hashtag, goes on to demand the star's immediate return to "Duck Dynasty," one of TV's most popular programs:
"I am asking your network to immediately reinstate Mr. Robertson to 'Duck Dynasty,' and to formally apologize to him, his family, and the millions of viewers who tune in every week, stand by him, and share his worldview. While the LGBT community may be offended by his opposing viewpoint, your rash, discriminatory and unfair treatment toward Mr. Robertson — a recognized symbol of the faith community — is a slap in the face to Faith-Driven Consumers and everyday Americans alike."”